O For a Star: Frodo’s Song in Shelob’s Lair

Outside the lair:       

This wasteland chokes my hope, my breath.

My doomed path looks only to death.

My Burden hangs with heavy strain.

It makes each step a piercing pain:

A fiery wheel, an Eye to see—

To mark, to burn, to follow me.

Dim memory from a long-passed rest:

A small glass phial against my breast.

This chilly thing fashioned to bless

Seems to enshroud death’s emptiness.

Caught in such darkness, can I hope?

Can weak hands catch so high a rope?

O, for a star to give me breath!

My doomed path looks only to death.

Within the lair:              

The air is stench, a demon’s breath—

O, for a star to hinder death!

Black tunnels strangle life from light—

O, for a star to give me sight!

Bones dangle in this slime-slicked hole:

The afterglow of Shelob’s soul—

In this black temple of the night

Is there a star to give me sight?

I thought my Burden strife to bear,

Yet in the horror of this lair . . .

O, for a single hope of grace,

Salvation from this deathly place!

The swollen monster’s myriad eyes—

O, for a star to hear my cries!

She staggers forward, a vicious pace –

O, for a single hope of grace!

Mired within this skeletal wreath,

How hard are desperation’s teeth!

Shackled not by strength, but slime,

My life caught in suspended time,

I gaze into horrendous eyes—

O, for a star to hear my cries!

To die within this rock-choked cave;

No light, no wind to cleanse my grave,

No star to cast its pale, soft gleams,

To grace with hope my last death-dreams—

O, for a star to give me sight,

To save me from this mouth of night!

Dim memory from a long-passed rest . . .

A small glass phial against my breast:

This chilly thing fashioned to bless

Seems to enshroud death’s emptiness.

Caught in such darkness, can I hope?

Can weak hands catch so high a rope?

I bring the glass out from my breast,

Believe in more than emptiness –

With the last droplets of my will,

I lift the phial—my heart falls still.

O for a star to give me sight,

To save me from this mouth of night!

Gilthoniel A Elbereth!”

Light explodes—a perfumed breath;

It blasts and blinds her myriad eyes,

And now it is my foe who cries,

Staggering back, a cowering mass

Before this tiny phial of glass!

From the slime-webbed wreath, I twist away,

Still guided by the pale star-ray.

Into the graying dusk I flee,

Worn and terrified . . . but free.

Caught in death’s darkness, can I hope?

Can weak hands catch so high a rope?

Yes, now I see—though darkness shrouds

My cold glass soul, and horror crowds—

A hope still lives, concealed within,

Waiting to be brought out again,

If only I believe in it

And have the faith to summon it.

By Mary Faustina

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